Tips for Improving Plan Health, Participant Savings

January 30, 2014 ( – Plan sponsors should take time at the year’s start to evaluate the health of their retirement plans, as well as see how they can encourage greater retirement readiness among participants.

“A financially secure retirement is the result of long-term planning,” says Moneesh Arora, senior vice president and general manager of ADP’s Retirement Services division, based in Roseland, New Jersey “There is no better time to get started than today.”

For plan sponsors, especially small business owners, ADP offers the following tips to improve their plans:

  • Conduct a due diligence analysis of plan fees;
  • Audit the administrative tasks you must complete as a plan fiduciary;
  • Update your fiduciary file. Document minutes of investment committee meetings and service provider due diligence searches;
  • Establish and/or review your investment policy statement;
  • Consider developing an employee education policy statement;
  • Conduct a plan health review to examine plan savings rates, by gender and age, and to understand how participants are allocating their savings;
  • Optimize your plan by offering automatic options such as automatic enrollment, automatic rebalancing and automatic deferral increases;
  • Leverage technology and social communication channels to engage employees;
  • Review compliance testing results to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises in 2014; and
  • Consider implementing or increasing employer contribution matching to increase employee enrollment and saving.

ADP also suggests a few things plan sponsors can do to encourage employees to boost their retirement savings:

  • Create a savings mentality. It is especially important that they begin now, especially if they have no plan in place. Remind them that saving something is better than nothing, even if it means saving a small amount each pay period.
  • Encourage incremental increases. Suggest that employees boost their deferral rate this year. For example, if they were saving 4% of their salary in 2013, they could increase it to 5% this year.
  • Tell them how they can save more for retirement with the help of their employer. Remind employees if your plan provides employer matching contributions to their 401(k). Explain how much they should contribute in order to get this match.
  • Suggest they talk to a professional. ADP research shows that using a professional investment adviser improves an investor’s confidence level in retirement decisions. If your 401(k) plan provider offers this feature, urge employees to take advantage of it.
  • Remind employees to put their eggs in more than one basket. A solid, diversified investment mix is like a balanced meal—variety is best. Suggest to employees that they allocate their assets based on their investment risk profile, tolerance and goals.
  • Set reminders. Help employees stay on track by sending mid-year reminders for increasing their 401(k) contribution.
  • Tell employees to think about the basics. Help them make a list of their retirement goals and needs. They should ask themselves “Where will I live and how much will it cost?” and “How will I pay for health care?”
  • Help them mind the gap. Show employees how to determine how much money they will need in retirement and encourage them to revisit this process from time to time.
  • Remind them they may be eligible for a catch-up contribution. Employees over age 50 can put more money into their 401(k).

“Employers and their employees understand that retirement readiness can be as attainable for them as it can be for individuals employed at larger organizations,” Arora adds. “Whether you are administering a retirement plan or planning for your own financial future, resolving to make your retirement savings responsibilities a priority can go a long way in helping you secure a comfortable future.”